Special Needs Ministry Wins Annual Disability Awareness Award

July 31st, 2013  |  Published in News

Photo courtesy St. Mary's County Public Information Office

Photo courtesy St. Mary’s County Public Information Office

The St. Mary’s Board of County Commissioners, along with the St. Mary’s Commission for People with Disabilities (COPD), on Tuesday presented 2013 ADA Awareness Awards to six individuals and one business. The awards are part of COPD’s initiative to create awareness about the disability community.

This year’s winners are as follows:

– Volunteer of the Year: Marcia Bald

– Notable Employer: Paula Hummer/NAVAIR

– Vicki Brown Award (formerly Outstanding Person with Disability award): Youth – Kayla Woolridge Adult – Chris Huseman

– Facility Accessibility : Sanner Lake Sportsman Club

Innovative Program: Rev. John Dakes, St. Aloysius Special Needs Ministry (Rev. David Beaubien accepting)

– Outstanding Individual Achievement Award: Betty Bush

Innovative Program Candidate should exhibit innovative plan and its execution for inclusion of persons with disabilities in an area of community life.

Rev John Dakes, St. Aloysius Special Needs Ministry (Rev. David Beaubien accepted the award for St. Aloysius. Rev. John Dakes was recently reassigned to another church.)

Rev. John Dakes is the pastor of St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Leonardtown. He has initiated a dynamic new effort to serve persons with special needs in St. Mary’s County. Since establishing the St. Aloysius Special Needs Ministry in June 2012, the parish has offered liturgies for and with persons with special needs, faith formation for persons with special needs and community-based social opportunities for persons with special needs and their families. Individuals who have benefited from this effort are teens, and young adults with a variety of needs, including autism, intellectual and physical disabilities.
This new ministry quickly has become one of the largest ministries, with many persons of good will participation to provide services and supports. More than 25 members make up the ministry, including medical professionals, educators, parents and others. It is supported by a grant from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Ministry has also been an advocate for persons with disabilities in St. Mary’s County, collaborating with location service organizations such as Agape Ministry and the Center for Life Enrichment. Other local parishes in St. Mary’s County are developing their own special needs ministry due to Father Dakes leadership. Fr. Dakes has been an inspiring leader of this ministry, allowing it to grow and meet the needs of his parish and of the larger St. Mary’s County Community. On behalf of the Archdioceses of Washington’s Department of Special Needs Ministries, we enthusiastically endorse this nomination.

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